If the alarm goes off and before you have had chance to rub the sleep from your eyes and open the curtains, and you're thinking about that first cup of coffee to get you through the start of the day, then keep reading.
If the above sounds familiar then don’t worry, you are not alone! There is a huge selection of coffee available, and from variety to dispense method each one is very different from the last. Instant, single-origin, French-press or espresso machine, it’s hard to make a decision. But one thing we can all agree on is that the world absolutely loves coffee. But should we consider alternatives to our morning cup of joe?
Is it time to look for a coffee alternative?
The boost you get from that first cup of coffee can sometimes make or break your morning. Whether it helps you to get out the door, beat the morning commute or nail that first meeting of the day, caffeine is a beneficial stimulant in your morning drink. But what happens when that buzz wears off? Do you find yourself repeatedly drinking coffee throughout the day to avoid the dreaded crash? Do you feel like you are drinking too much coffee? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then it might be time to find a coffee alternative.
How much caffeine is in a cup of coffee?
The amount of caffeine in coffee can range from very little to over 500mg per drink, but the average is around 95mg per cup. To be able to work out how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee, it's important to look at a few variables. The amount of caffeine depends on the following factors:
Coffee bean variety
Level of roast
The size of your cup
How it's brewed
It goes without saying that the size of your cup will determine how much caffeine is in your cup of coffee. If you order a very large size from a coffee shop, odds are that it will contain a higher amount of caffeine. The type of coffee you order also affects – if you drink espresso, the concentration of caffeine is much larger, but the serving size is smaller. The use of water in americanos and milk in lattes and cappuccinos will not increase the amount of caffeine but might spread out the time it takes for you to drink it. Darker roasts are less dense than their lighter counterparts, so if you grind and weigh your coffee it will take more dark roast to weigh out the same, this will increase how much caffeine is in your cup of coffee.
If you can work out how much caffeine is in your cup of coffee, you might be able to make a decision on whether you should look at trying a coffee alternative. This is especially true if the amount is regularly higher than the average of 95mg per cup.
Is coffee bad for you?
The simple answer to this question is, no, coffee isn’t bad for you, but this does depend on how much you drink and when you drink it. There are many positive effects from drinking a cup of coffee, but if you are headed back to the pot more often than you should, this could lead to a fair amount of adverse health effects as well. In order for you to make up your mind, here is a list of pros and cons to drinking coffee so that you can make an informed decision on whether coffee is bad for you and whether you should look at a coffee alternative.
Improves energy and focus: Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, which blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This raises energy levels and can significantly improve brain function.
A great source of antioxidants: For many people, coffee is the main source of antioxidants in their diet. The coffee bean is loaded with substances that can prevent damage to cells by targeting unstable molecules like free-radicals.
Contains essential vitamins and nutrients: A cup of coffee contains many of the rich nutrients found in the bean. These include vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B5 and levels of magnesium and potassium as well.
Can cause anxiety: The level of caffeine in coffee is high, and if you drink too much, you may feel agitated and jittery. This over-stimulation may cause nervousness and have an adverse effect on your concentration.
Coffee is addictive: Physical addiction to coffee can occur, with diminished effects shown with regular use. This can lead to symptoms of withdrawal, such as headaches and exhaustion.
Can disrupt sleep: drinking too much coffee or consuming caffeine later in the day can increase your stimulation to a level where it affects your ability to sleep. This can lead to exhaustion and mental fogginess.
There are obvious benefits to a cup of coffee, but the bottom line is balance. Coffee is not bad for you in small amounts but having too much caffeine regularly and drinking it late in the day can also have some more negative effects on your mental and physical health.
Healthy alternatives to coffee:
Here are a few options when it comes to replacing that cup of coffee with something more 'healthy'. When we say healthy, in this instance it's the absence of caffeine that makes most of these alternatives a great choice, but some contain other beneficial health properties too.
Yerba mate isn't just an amusing name to say; this herbal tea is also a brilliant alternative to coffee. The tea is made by drying the leaves of the South American holly tree and can be found all across the continent. The smokey flavor might seem a little strange at first, but once you get used to it, this coffee alternative is genuinely unique. On the health side of things, yerba mate is loaded with vitamins C and E and contains more antioxidants than a cup of green tea. And if you can't see yourself giving up that boost that you get from coffee, the good news is that yerba mate contains a similar level of caffeine to a cup of coffee! Sorted.
The adaptogenic herb maca originates from Peru and is used in many forms for its health-giving properties. One way to enjoy it is as a delicious hot drink – mix the powder in with almond milk and some spices, and the natural sweetness will create a creamy and delicious coffee alternative. The adaptogenic qualities of maca mean that the root contains compounds that can assist in the regulation of hormones in the adrenal gland. This can help balance stress and provide natural energy, making this treat a wonderful addition to your morning routine.
If you love the taste of coffee, but don't get the same level of satisfaction from a cup of decaf, then it could be time to explore chicory root. This coffee alternative was used by the French during the civil war when the availability of coffee was scarce. The French soldiers would brew their drink with chicory to imitate the flavor of coffee and found that they really enjoyed the taste. The chicory root is similar to a coffee bean because it can be roasted and ground up and brewed as a hot drink. It has a fresh and bitter aroma with a considerable amount of body, but absolutely no caffeine. Chicory is also a brilliant source of inulin, which can help with digestion through the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Matcha Green Tea:
Ah, the mighty matcha green tea. Never far from a health blog or a lifestyle Instagram account, and for a good reason. Matcha in concentrated powder form is better quality than regular green tea with improved health benefits as well. This earthy and fresh tasting tea has a much higher level of antioxidants, which is fantastic for combating free-radicals and may help in the prevention of heart disease. A particular type of antioxidant, epigallocatechin gallate, has also shown promising signs of reducing high blood pressure. If you are on the hunt for healthy alternatives to coffee, matcha tea is a truly healthy replacement.
Now for something a little different. Kombucha is one of the hottest trends in health foods right now because the fermentation of black tea unlocks the benefits. The process of fermentation that creates kombucha uses a SCOBY – symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, and it's this post-fermentation mix that gives the drink its distinct taste as well as probiotic and antioxidant qualities. The acetic acid in kombucha makes it slightly tart, and many are flavored with fruits and spices. The presence of kombucha in cafes and health shops is relatively commonplace today, so why not use this refreshing summer drink as a replacement for your cup of coffee?
Time to curb the caffeine?
The bottom line is, coffee is not bad for you in small amounts and, in fact, has many beneficial health properties. It really depends on how much caffeine is in your cup of coffee and how regularly and what time of the day you drink it. It makes total sense not to drink it all day, and with the fantastic variety of healthy coffee alternatives on the market, it should be an exciting time to adopt some change. Ultimately it comes down to making healthy positive changes to your daily routine. If you are ready to build habits that promote a healthier nutrition and fitness regime, why not sign up to the 8fit app today?